By Benjamin NJOKU
The 5th edition of the biennial ZUMA film festival whichÂ rounded offÂ last Thursday at the NICO Luxury Hotel, Abuja, poses aÂ new challenge for Nollywood practitioners: to reposition and catch up with globalÂ film production. Â
The festival was declared open amid fun fare last Sunday evening by Minister of Information and Communications, Professor Dora Akunyili.
The four-day event witnessed a flurry of activities, including the NFC annual film lecture delivered by a film critic and scholar, Professor Adamu Abdalla Uba of theÂ Bayero University, Kano,Â presentation of cash awards and certificates to winners of the NFC annual film essay competition 2009/2010 edition, screening of film projects, general screenings and film market exhibition, amongst other thrilling events featured during the festival.
Akunyili, while declaring the opening ceremony, charged film makers in the countryÂ to brace up if they must meet the modern challenges of using film to project a positive image of their fatherland.
The minister, flanked by her Minister of State, Mr. Labaran Maku, told guests and dignitaries at the eventÂ that the occasion offered a â€œgolden opportunity to draw global attention to the efforts stakeholders in the Nigerian project are making to sustain a globally acceptable image.â€
She pointed out that the ZUMA Film Festival organized by the Nigerian Film Corporation is an appropriate response in the attempts at galvanizing positive image campaign for Nigeria and as such, she commended the organisers.
Akunyili said with determination, Nollywood could achieve the feat that countries like America, United Kingdom and Australia have attained in using film to build positive brandsÂ and that can change the wrong perceptions about Nigeria and Nigerians.
The Information and Communications Minister told the guests, made up of government officials,Â film students, film makers, distributors, investors and other stakeholders that the federal government would step up its efforts in providing the enabling environment for the nationâ€™s motion picture industry in view of the sectorâ€™s enormous contributions to creative and economic growth of the country.
In his address, NFC Managing Director, Mr. Afolabi Adesanya, who doubled as the festival chairman said the festival came at a time when â€œthe nation is charting an appropriate response to seriously counter the growing concern regarding the untoward perception of the country and her people across the globe through the â€œrebranding Nigeria project.â€
He therefore thanked the participants, NFC staff, collaborators and enthusiasts for all efforts geared towards sustaining the spirit behind the biennial festival.
While the festival lasted, officials of the parastatal had enough on their hands as they were besieged by festival delegates who had come from far and near places to be part of the biennial event.
Part of the highlights of the festival was the bestowing of the ZUMA Life Time award to a worthy recipient, Mr Adewale Olanrewaju Fanu.
Some of the delegates expressed satisfaction concerning the organisation of the event and its import, adding that some of them were at the festival for the first time, and hoped to gain a lot at the end of the day. But for others, it was coming back to a familiar ground, where lessons learned in the previous editions were gainful.